TV & Streaming

Streamers’ efforts to keep subscribers around are yielding mixed results: report

Let’s just say being bundled is more valuable for some streamers than others.
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Hannah Minn

3 min read

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Slow and steady is the new name of the game for streamers.

Total SVOD subscriptions in the first quarter of 2024 increased 10.2% year over year, a considerable slowdown compared to 18.8% YoY growth reported in Q1 2023, according to Antenna’s State of Subscriptions: Pricing and Packaging report released this month.

Overall, though, 38% of all SVOD subscriptions were ad-supported as of Q1, a perhaps welcome sign for marketers spending on streaming. What may be less welcome: As growth slows, churn is still an issue, the report found.

To reckon with these new circumstances, streamers are experimenting with pricing variations, ad tiers, new content, and bundling to woo customers. Some are seeing better results than others.

“With their brands now well-established and with strong foundations of scale, SVODs have shifted their focus from pure subscriber acquisition to a more nuanced attention on profitable growth,” according to the report.

Bird’s-eye view

While SVOD subscriptions are still growing, streamers are seeing different levels of intake, according to the report. Netflix clocked the most YoY net additions—7.3 million from Q1 2023–Q1 2024—thanks to the introduction of its ad tier and its password-sharing crackdown. NBCUniversal-owned Peacock saw the fastest growth among premium SVODs, boosting its subscriber base 31.3% YoY.

As for churn rates, as a whole, premium SVOD churn ticked up to 5% in 2024, compared to 4.4% in March 2023. Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max reduced its YoY churn the most, to 6.3% in 2024 from 7.3% in March 2023.

Trial and error

With churn increasing and new streaming platforms vying for consumer eyeballs, some streamers are leaning into retention-boosting tactics. Free trials and price promotions have brought in “substantial portions” of SVOD signups, the report said; In 2023, 34% of sign-ups came via free trials and 6% came through a promotional price offering.

Streamers have also increased prices across the board, but those price increases “have not significantly disrupted acquisition or retention,” the report said. Across 12 streamer price hikes that Antenna measured, net subscriber additions stayed positive the month of a price increase and during the three months afterward. The highest cancel rates were the month the price hikes were instituted.

“Pricing and packaging could dictate the next phase of the SVOD business,” the report said.

It appears airing sports programming is also paying off when it comes to reeling in subs. Paramount+ and Peacock both saw major subscriber gains from streaming the AFC Wild Card Game and Super Bowl, clocking 31% of the SVOD gross adds in Q1 2024.

Other tactics, like bundling, may yield mixed results. Netflix may not find much value in being bundled (even though it’s part of Comcast’s recently announced StreamSaver bundle), while a service like Starz would “benefit materially” from bundling, according to the report.

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Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.